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Trinityz1   Wednesday, 11/30/11 12:20:26 PM
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Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1107, November 27, 2011

1. Mexico: Pentagon Privatizes Controversial “War on Drugs”
2. Latin America: Students Hold First Continental March for Education
3. Latin America: Groups Protest Continued Violence Against Women
4. Links to alternative sources on: South America, Argentina, Brazil,
Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, Panama, El
Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Mexico

ISSN#: 1084 922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from
Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a
progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua
Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. For a subscription,
write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com . It is archived at
http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com

*1. Mexico: Pentagon Privatizes Controversial “War on Drugs”
A little-known office of the US Defense Department is now taking bids
from private security firms on a $3 billion contract for US-funded
anti-narcotics operations in Mexico, Colombia, Afghanistan, Pakistan
and other countries. According to a report in Wired News, the
Pentagon’s Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office (CNTPO) announced a
“mega-contract” on Nov. 9 for as much as $950 million for “operations,
logistics and minor construction,” up to $975 million for training
foreign forces, $875 million for “Information” tasks, and $240 million
for “program and program support.” The cash will start flowing next
August, and the contractors may be able to extend the jobs for three
more years.

The Mexican daily La Jornada reports that the work involving Mexican
operations includes training for armed forces drivers; training for
pilots, mechanics and crews on UH-60, Schweizer 333 or OH-58
helicopters in the Public Security Secretariat; training for up to 48
people to command and pilot Bell 206 helicopters; and the development
of night vision materials and training programs for helicopter pilots
and crews.

The CNTPO started in 1995, but its importance has grown as the Defense
Department increasingly turns sensitive jobs over to private
contractors. Nick Schwellenbach, director of investigations for the US
nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, told Wired that the office
is now “essentially planning on outsourcing a global counternarcotics
and counterterrorism program over the next several years, and it’s
willing to spend billions to do so.” “This stuff isn’t delivering
paper clips or even fuel or bullets,” Schellenbach said. “This is
something you really want to keep a tight lid on.”

The CNTPO gained some notoriety in 2009 when it unsuccessfully tried
to award a contract worth about $1 billion to the Blackwater military
services corporation. Blackwater employees have been accused of theft
and human rights violations, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan; the
company has since changed its name to Xe Services LLC. (Wired News
11/22/11; LJ 11/23/11 from correspondent)

Much of the Mexican population is disillusioned with the country’s
“war on drugs,” five years after President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa
began involving the military in anti-narcotics operations at the start
of his term [see Update #1103]. On Nov. 25 Mexican human rights
attorney Netzaí Sandoval filed a complaint with the International
Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague charging Calderón, members of his
cabinet and members of a drug cartel based in the northern state of
Sinaloa with 470 documented cases of murder, torture, forced
displacement and military recruitment of minors. These took place in a
“generalized context of systematic violence which has brought Mexico
to a humanitarian crisis, with more than 50,000 people killed, 230,000
displaced and 10,000 disappeared,” Sandoval told Netherlands Radio
Worldwide.

Among the crimes attributed to the government in the complaint are
sexual violations by Mexican soldiers, the “enslavement” of
undocumented immigrants by officials in collaboration with criminal
groups, the killing of civilians at military checkpoints, forced
disappearances, extrajudicial executions and the use of torture to
obtain confessions. The complaint says the Sinaloa Cartel and its
head, Joaquín Guzmán (“El Chapo”), have created armies that are guilty
of executions, amputations and decapitations, attacks on civilian
targets and the military recruitment of minors.

The complaint, which was signed by 23,000 Mexicans, is unlikely to
develop into an actual criminal case. But John Ackerman, a legal
expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), told La
Jornada that the complaint could lead ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno
Ocampo to put Mexico under formal observation, as has happened with
Colombia. “If we accomplish this first step, it would be a gain,” he
said. (LJ 11/26/11)

*2. Latin America: Students Hold First Continental March for Education
Tens of thousands of students marched in more than a dozen Latin
American cities on Nov. 24 in the Latin American March for Education,
a coordinated regional demonstration to support free and high-quality
public education. The mobilization was planned by Chilean and
Colombian students earlier in the month [see Update #1105], but by
Nov. 24 it had spread to include actions in Argentina, Brazil, Costa
Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay
and Venezuela. Participants stressed that students had similar demands
throughout the region and were also united in their support for the
movement in Chile.

The Nov. 24 march was the 42nd day of mass mobilization for Chilean
students, who began protesting last spring against the privatization
of the educational system under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto
Pinochet (1973-1990). Confrontations between students and the
carabineros militarized police broke out in parts of Santiago early on
Nov. 24 as youths tried to march without permits in the capital’s
downtown area. The local government authorized a march in the evening
that drew as many as 40,000 participants, according to some estimates,
but the police attacked the marchers with tear gas and water cannons
when the permit expired at 8 pm. A total of 58 youths were arrested in
the day’s demonstrations; another 30 youths were arrested when the
police ended a student occupation at the Darío Salas high school.

Tens of thousands joined the Nov. 24 protests in Colombia’s main
cities. Despite a light rain, students marched from at least seven
meeting points in Bogotá, monitored by some 2,500 police agents. There
were isolated incidents, resulting in 11 arrests. Colombian students
had suspended their own month-old strike on Nov. 17 after the
government withdrew a proposal for changes to the educational system
[see Update #1106], but they marched on Nov. 24 “in solidarity with
the student movement in Chile and in all of Latin America,” according
to university student Laura Jaramillo. She added that the protest
would also remind President Juan Manuel Santos that Colombia’s
students remain mobilized. (Inter Press Service 11/25/11; La Jornada
(Mexico) 11/25/11 from correspondent, 11/25/11 from PL, AFP, DPA,
Notimex)

Some 5,000 Honduran students marched through the streets of
Tegucigalpa in a protest led by former president José Manuel (“Mel”)
Zelaya Rosales (2006-2009) and backed by the National Popular
Resistance Front (FNRP), a grassroots coalition that formed after a
June 2009 military coup removed Zelaya from office. The Honduran march
focused on violence against students, in particular the Oct. 22 murder
of two university students, Alejandro Rafael Vargas Castellanos and
Carlos David Pineda Rodríguez, apparently by a group of police agents
with criminal connections [see Update #1104]. Vargas Castellanos’
mother is Julieta Castellanos, the rector of the Autonomous University
of Honduras (UNAH), and she led the UNAH contingent at the march. In
the spring of 2010 Julieta Castellanos was the target of a hunger
strike by FNRP supporters because of layoffs of teachers at the
university [see Update #1033], but now she has become a prominent
figure in the movement to purge the police of corrupt agents. (AFP
11/24/11 via La Tribuna (Tegucigalpa))

*3. Latin America: Groups Protest Continued Violence Against Women
Women’s organizations throughout Latin America used the United
Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against
Women, Nov. 25, to highlight continued abuse of women in the region
and the failure of governments to take steps to reduce it.

In Chile the women’s rights center Corporación Humanas marked Nov. 25
by publicizing the results of a nationwide poll of women about their
perception of their situation. Some 67% of those questioned said they
thought the Chilean government had failed to take measures to prevent
violence against women. About 54% believed that the violence had
increased, 34% said it had stayed the same, and just 8% felt it had
decreased. Some 73% said violence against women in couples was a
problem that affects all women, because it is an extreme expression of
machismo. So far this year there have been 38 femicides (misogynistic
murders) in Chile. (Adital (Brazil) 11/25/11)

Hundreds of Salvadoran women marched in San Salvador to denounce the
582 femicides that that have occurred in the country in 2011 and to
demand respect for women’s human rights and greater resources for
groups working to defend women.

In Honduras more than 200 women marched through the center of
Tegucigalpa and in front of the National Congress to demand justice
and an end to impunity for those who rape or murder women or commit
other violent acts against them. According to Grissel Amaya, the
Public Ministry’s special prosecutor for crimes against women, more
than 1,500 women were murdered in Honduras from 2008 to 2011. The
Public Ministry received more than 20,000 reports of domestic violence
during the period and more than 11,000 reports of sexual violence,
Amaya told reporters on Nov. 25.

Thousands attended a demonstration in Guatemala City to demand an end
to machista violence, which has resulted in the deaths of more than
650 women this year. Participants included university students,
indigenous women, professionals and activists. (EFE 11/26/11 via La
Opinión (Los Angeles))

In Mexico the Chamber of Deputies of the National Congress marked Nov.
25 with the publication of a book, Feminicidio en México;
aproximación, tendencias y cambios 1985-2009, dealing with femicides
over a 24-year period. The authors found that there had been 34,176
murders of women during the period and that the rate of these murders
had increased by 68%. A total of 17.2% of the victims were under the
age of 18.

One of the authors, María de la Paz López, noted in an interview that
there had been a jump in murders of women from 2007 to 2009, after
Mexico began militarizing the fight against narco-trafficking. She
said the available data couldn’t establish a relation between the
murders and the “drug war,” but she indicated that the recent climate
of violence in Mexico provided an environment that could encourage
violence against women. Like other Mexican specialists in the subject,
the book’s authors stressed the importance of creating legislation
that treats femicide as a separate criminal category [see Update
#1084]. (Milenio (Mexico) 11/26/11; La Jornada (Mexico) 11/26/11)

In Haiti the feminist organization Haitian Women’s Solidarity (SOFA)
was planning to send a caravan to Lascahobas, in the Central Plateau
near the Dominican border, on Nov. 25 to “increase awareness on the
part of the local authorities” about violence against women. SOFA
spokesperson Olga Benoit said this was part of a long-term campaign to
end the practice of accepting attacks on women as normal and
downplaying their importance; eventually the group hopes to set up a
center for victims of violence in the town. A total of 24,369 cases of
violence against women were reported in Haiti from 2002 and 2011,
according to figures released on Nov. 25 by the National Dialogue
Against Violent Acts Committed Against Women. (AlterPresse (Haiti)
11/25/11, 11/26/11)

*4. Links to alternative sources on: South America, Argentina, Brazil,
Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, Panama, El
Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Mexico

South America: Coming Together to Preserve the La Plata Basin
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/3317-south-america-coming-together-to-preserve-the-la-plata-basin

Argentina Inundated with E-Waste
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/3320--argentina-inundated-with-e-waste-

Brazil: Guarani Leader Slain by Masked Gunmen
http://ww4report.com/node/10581

Chevron Takes “Full Responsibility” for Brazil Oil Spill
http://latindispatch.com/2011/11/21/chevron-takes-full-responsibility-for-brazil-oil-spill/

Peru: supposedly non-existent "uncontacted" tribesmen kill intruder
http://ww4report.com/node/10590

Peru: indefinite occupation declared to halt mine in Cajamarca
http://ww4report.com/node/10595

Ecuador: indigenous leader sentenced to prison for "defamation"
http://ww4report.com/node/10593

FARC executes prisoners in rescue attempt: Bogotá
http://ww4report.com/node/10587

Chávez repatriates Venezuelan gold from European banks
http://ww4report.com/node/10589

Interview with Gioconda Mota: The Fight for Abortion in Venezuela
http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/6650

Free Markets and the Food Crisis in Central America
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/5726

France Approves Manuel Noriega’s Extradition to Panama
http://latindispatch.com/2011/11/24/france-approves-manuel-noriegas-extradition-to-panama/

Thanksgiving Rally of the 99% Encachimbado and Indignado in El Salvador
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/3324-thanksgiving-rally-of-the-99-encachimbado-and-indignado-in-el-sa

Ex-general Replaces Leftist Leader in El Salvador’s Security Cabinet
as Washington Reasserts Influence in Central America
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/el-salvador-archives-74/3325-ex-general-replaces-leftist-leader-in-el-salvadors-security-cabinet-as-washington-reasserts-influence-in-central-america

Honduran Coup General Seeks Presidency
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/3318-honduran-coup-general-seeks-presidency

Belize Government Defies Supreme Court Ruling; Grants Oil Company
Permit to Maya Lands
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/3321-belize-government-defies-supreme-court-ruling-grants-oil-company-permit-to-maya-lands

Belize: government grants oil company permit to Maya lands
http://ww4report.com/node/10588

Mexico: Calderón to The Hague?
http://ww4report.com/node/10594

AMLO’s Moment (Mexico)
https://nacla.org/blog/2011/11/22/amlo%E2%80%99s-moment

Mexican Indigenous Community Boycotts Elections
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/mexico-archives-79/3314-mexican-indigenous-community-boycotts-elections-

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:
http://www.cipamericas.org/
http://latindispatch.com/
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/967/blastContent.jsp
http://www.ueinternational.org/Mexico_info/mlna.php
http://nacla.org/
http://upsidedownworld.org/
http://venezuelanalysis.com/
http://ww4report.com/node/

For immigration updates and events:
http://thepoliticsofimmigration.blogspot.com/

END
This Update is archived at:
http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/2011/11/wnu-1107-pentagon-privatizing-mexicos.html


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without experience, no explanation is possible."

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